Divorce Laws in Indiana Concerning Pensions

By Heather Frances J.D.

When Indiana spouses divorce, they can agree about how they want their property divided or the court will divide it for them. Either way, a spouse’s pension may be considered an asset divisible in the divorce according to Indiana law. When the pension is divisible, the court must issue the proper orders to effectively transfer part of one spouse’s pension rights to the other spouse.

Vested Vs. Non-Vested

Pensions are retirement plans that require an employee to work a certain number of years to receive benefits under the plan. For example, an employer may require all employees to work for 10 years before they qualify for any pension benefits. When an employee has not worked for the employer long enough to meet the minimum term of the pension plan, his rights are “unvested,” meaning he is in the process of earning them but doesn’t have them yet. An employee who has met the minimum term of the pension plan has “vested” pension rights since he is guaranteed to receive at least some benefits under the plan’s rules.

Spousal Rights

Indiana courts consider pension rights, vested or unvested, to be marital assets. Like other marital assets, they can be divided by the court in a divorce. Even though neither spouse actually controls the pension since it is in the control of the employer or union, the non-earning spouse is eligible to receive a percentage of the value of the pension that was earned during the marriage. Indiana courts may also divide the portion of the pension earned before marriage, but the earning spouse has the opportunity to convince the court that division of the premarital earnings would not be fair.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More

Equitable Distribution

Indiana courts divide all property, including pension rights, in an equitable manner, which means the division should be just and reasonable — but not necessarily equal. Indiana law requires the courts to presume that an equal division would be just and reasonable, but the court can consider evidence that an equal split would not be appropriate in a particular case. Then, it can split the property in any shares it determines to be equitable. To make these decisions, Indiana courts consider factors such as the contributions each spouse made to the property, whether the property was acquired before the marriage, and the earning potential of each spouse.

Qualified Domestic Relations Order

Though the court can divide pension rights in the same manner as other property, the actual payout of these pension rights is different. Most pension plans require a Qualified Domestic Relations Order before the plan administrator will pay any benefits to anyone other than the earning spouse. QDROs must be issued by an appropriate court and must be approved by the plan administrator as meeting QDRO requirements before the administrator will pay any share of benefits to the non-earning spouse.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
Non-Vested Pension Division During a Divorce


Related articles

How to Divide Pension Income in a Divorce in Illinois

Illinois couples must split their assets as part of their divorce, and these assets can include many types of retirement plans as well as assets like cash, real estate and personal property. If a divorcing couple cannot reach agreement on how to divide a pension or other asset, the court must decide the issue for them.

How Are Profit-Sharing Plans Divided in a Divorce?

While the division of assets can be complex in a divorce, profit-sharing and pension plans belonging to one spouse, or to both, offer an additional legal tangle. A federal law known as the Employee Retirement Income Securities Act applies guidelines on how companies set up and administer these plans, while the Retirement Equity Act covers how a divorce settlement may handle them.

Division of Pension Benefits During a Divorce in Maryland

When couples divorce, they can reach an agreement about how their assets should be divided, and the court can adopt that agreement as part of the divorce decree. However, if a couple cannot agree on property division, including the division of a pension, Maryland courts step in to split the marital assets.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

Texas Divorce Laws on the Distribution of Pension Income

Before a divorce decree is issued, the court must first make sure any and all marital issues have been resolved, such ...

How Does Indiana Divorce Law Divide a 401K?

When an Indiana couple divorces, the court must divide the couple’s property as part of the divorce decree, unless the ...

Divorce Retirement Questions in Michigan

If you're divorcing in Michigan, you may have questions about how your retirement plan and that of your soon to be ...

Is New Jersey a Community Property State When it Comes to Pension & Social Security?

During your divorce proceeding, the New Jersey court has authority to divide your marital property, including real ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED